Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby

Lala Salama: A Tanzanian Lullaby

by Patricia MacLachlan, Elizabeth Zunon
     
 

For sleepy little ones everywhere, Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan offers a lyrical Tanzanian lullaby that follows a loving family through their day.

The rhythm of the day's activities creates the melody of the evening's lullaby in this sweet song of family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika. As the bright day shifts to twilight, the lantern on

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Overview

For sleepy little ones everywhere, Newbery Medalist Patricia MacLachlan offers a lyrical Tanzanian lullaby that follows a loving family through their day.

The rhythm of the day's activities creates the melody of the evening's lullaby in this sweet song of family life along the banks of Lake Tanganyika. As the bright day shifts to twilight, the lantern on Baba's boat twinkles in the distance, sending the baby off into a peaceful sleep on Mama's shoulder. Inspired by a visit to her son, his wife, and their child in Tanzania, Patricia MacLachlan writes a gentle story of an African family's day from sunup to sundown. Rich, beautifully detailed illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon offer a restful complement to the Swahili refrain "lala salama"—an invocation to "sleep well."

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Lala salama” means “Sleep peacefully” in Swahili; MacLachlan (Before You Came) imagines the phrase repeated by a Tanzanian mother as she recounts the events of the day to her small child. In all of Zunon’s (My Hands Sing the Blues) warm, intimate oil paintings, the baby is shown held close; its feet never touch the ground. The baby sits on its mother’s lap and watches Baba, the father, sweep out his fishing boat. Later, the mother washes the baby “in the water warmed by the fire” and carries the baby on her back, “close enough to feel the beating of your heart” as she collects water in a jug, works the field, and cooks an evening meal. At last, baby and mother sit on the shore, watching the lights of the boats: “One by one by one, the lanterns/ flicker on the lake—/ stars above and stars below.” MacLachlan presents a vision of African life that’s serene and safe, and the mother’s voice lulls, reassures, and soothes—it’s rich bedtime listening for the very young. Ages 3–up. (Nov.)
From the Publisher
MacLachlan presents a vision of African life that's serene and safe, and the mother's voice lulls, reassures, and soothes-it's rich bedtime listening for the very young.
—Publishers Weekly
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
A mother recalls for her baby the day they have spent by Lake Tanganyika in the Congo. The father has cleaned his boat and set sail with the other boats. She bathes the child and dresses him. He rides on her back as she fetches water, works in the fields, and cooks. As evening falls, the monkeys go to their beds, the birds "twitter their last songs," and father returns to sing his own song before going out again on the water. The night comes, "the stars spread across the sky," and the baby goes to sleep. Large double-page oil paintings achieve a sense of peace as they eliminate fussy details while presenting the landscape and sky in broad, smooth shapes. Even the boats and huts are treated more as design objects than realistically. Mother and child are depicted using a smooth modeling technique that makes them particularly appealing. Swahili words are introduced and easily understood in context. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS—In a tiny Tanzanian settlement of thatched-roof huts located on a sandy beach and in the verdant hills rising from it, a young mother recounts to her baby, in lilting text, the story of their day. Together they saw the sunrise; watched Baba clean his small boat; gathered water at the stream; hoed the fields; and cooked over a fire on the beach. They passed monkeys, zebras, and beautiful birds as they carried a basket of food for Baba to take out on his boat at night, and now they sit on a blanket under the stars as Mama sings her baby to sleep. The refrain, "Lala salama" (Swahili for "sleep peacefully"), is repeated throughout the short text. Bold hues of green, blue, and orange predominate in lovely two-page scenes painted in oils on watercolor paper that give them all a textured look. In her folk-art style, Zunon shows women carrying bundles and baskets on their heads; fishing boats waiting in the rosy pink sunrise at water's edge; children at wash boxes on the beach; the colorful cloth in Mama's wrapped skirt, and the brightly patterned kanga cloth that she uses to carry her baby on her back as she works. This is a soothing bedtime book-a rhythmic lullaby that can be used to lull a little one to sleep and, perhaps, to inspire parents to create a story of their own baby's day, as well.—Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Kirkus Reviews
Newbery Medal–winner MacLachlan (Sarah, Plain and Tall, 1985) sets her gentle picture book–cum-lullaby near Lake Tanganyika in Tanzania. Her recent Your Moon, My Moon: A Grandmother's Words to a Faraway Child, illustrated by Bryan Collier (2011), travels similar territory--sharing comforting words to a beloved young one. "Lala salama" means "sleep peacefully" in Swahili and serves as a soothing refrain in the rhythmic narrative from mother to baby as the day unfolds. Zunon's lush, softly textured oil paintings on watercolor paper reflect the warmth of the African setting and emotion-imbued prose. Saturated warm hues dominate in clearly depicting the unfamiliar, whether it be a kanga, a brightly colored cotton cloth often used as a baby sling, or "the bee-eaters" that "twitter their last songs of the day…" Baba (father) plays an active role, laughing with his baby or preparing his wooden boat to join "other boats, / their flour-sack sails / fat with wind." But then night comes, and the palette deepens into rich blues and inky purples: "Close your eyes, / my / dear / child. / Lala salama." Share this with preschoolers who may enjoy a peek into another culture's family life or keep at hand for the tired child, who will most appreciate this quietly sentimental offering. (Picture book. 3-5)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763647476
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
11/08/2011
Pages:
32
Sales rank:
726,607
Product dimensions:
9.80(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.40(d)
Lexile:
AD770L (what's this?)
Age Range:
3 - 7 Years

Meet the Author

Patricia MacLachlan is the Newbery Medal-winning author of the much-loved SARAH, PLAIN AND TALL. Lala Salama evolved from a time spent with her son John and his family in Tanzania, where John worked with Jane Goodall, and he and his wife worked on other conservation projects as well. Their daughter Ella was born in Tanzania. Patricia MacLachlan lives in Massachusetts.

Elizabeth Zunon is the illustrator of MY HANDS SING THE BLUES. About Lala Salama, she says, "For me, the key to falling in love with a story is feeling a connection with the people and places native to the setting." Born in New York State, she grew up on the Ivory Coast, West Africa, and now lives in upstate New York.

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